Naomi Osaka battles back to book a spot in Beijing semifinals

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WATCH—Tennis Channel Live discusses Osaka's hot streak: 

US Open champion Naomi Osaka battled back from the brink of defeat on Friday to reach the semifinals of the last Premier Mandatory-level tournament of the year, the China Open in Beijing.

Osaka had spent an average of 62 minutes on court in each of her first three matches of the week, a 6-4, 6-3 first round win over Zarina Diyas (68 minutes), a 6-1, 6-0 second round win over American Danielle Collins (52 minutes) and a 6-1, 6-2 third round win over Julia Goerges (66 minutes).

She’d need more than twice that to survive Zhang Shuai in the quarterfinals, though.

Zhang, who was fresh off the sixth Top 10 win of her career against No. 3-ranked Angelique Kerber, looked headed for another Top 10 win over the No. 6-ranked Osaka as she not only took the first set, but then went up 6-3, 2-0 and came within two games, up 6-3, 4-3. And after Osaka won three straight games to take the second set, Zhang again jumped ahead in the third, building leads of 4-1 and 5-3.

But Osaka’s been doing a lot of winning lately, and that winning continued as she reeled off the last four games of the match to complete a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory after two hours and 33 minutes on court.

She blasted her ninth ace (and 51st overall winner) of the match on match point.

Osaka only had nice words about Zhang in her on-court interview.

“She’s such an incredible player, and she’s really sweet,” Osaka said. “Yeah, it was really hard to play against her here. You guys should be really lucky that she’s such a great player.”

She was then asked about their exchange at the net afterwards.

“She was saying congrats, and basically I was sort of apologizing for my behavior, because I was kind of stressed throughout the whole thing,” the 20-year-old Japanese replied.

Osaka has now won 14 of her last 15 matches, going 7-0 to win her first Grand Slam title at the US Open, 3-1 to reach the final in Tokyo two weeks ago (where she finished runner-up to Karolina Pliskova), and 4-0 so far in Beijing this week. She withdrew from Wuhan last week due to illness.

Awaiting Osaka in the semifinals will be US Open semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova, who won an all-unseeded battle against Dominika Cibulkova in the second quarterfinal match of the day—6-3, 7-6 (5).

Osaka and Sevastova have split their two previous career meetings, 1-1, with Osaka winning in Toronto last year (6-3, 6-4) and Sevastova winning in Doha earlier this year (6-4, 6-1).

ATP Beijing & Tokyo (Sep. 30-Oct. 7)
- Tennis Channel PLUS has every ATP match live, from the first round to the final. Watch up to three courts from Beijing and two from Tokyo. 

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